I am grateful to be a part of a historic election in 2022. In the past 20 years, no Deputy Public Defender has ever won an election. I plan to be one of the first. I am proud to run alongside and support the other public defenders, Holly Hancock for Office 70, Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes for Office 67, and Patrick Hare for Office 151.
Public Defender experience belongs on the bench because it has offered me the experience of finding solutions to the root cause of crime, not just convictions. The overwhelming majority of elected judges come from prosecution. In fact, in 2020, 100% of elected judges were prosecutors. I intend to change that.
Through a passion for the rights of all people, as well as my experiences rooted in public service and protecting people's Constitutional rights, I have seen why we need more women like myself to run for a seat as Judge of the Superior Court. I have seen and experienced styles of judicial interpretation that were inspiring, as well as those that were not.
Experience, dedication and compassion
The law is constantly evolving and changing to adapt to the needs of our county. I consider myself a lifelong learner, and I believe that this is crucial to ensuring that the judiciary continues to reflect the values and interests of the people in Los Angeles County. I want to meet this moment, promote more transparency in the judicial election process, and uphold the ideals of our legal system, while offering creative solutions that benefit the county within the confines of the law.
Through my role as a Deputy Public Defender, I have a unique perspective and understanding on the issues we are dealing with daily in the courts, especially issues impacting the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community. I believe in embracing recently passed laws that allow judges to promote solutions to the problems we face and serve the interest of all Angelenos in cases where it is appropriate.
I am the only candidate in my race who has extensive experience in addressing the root cause of crime to stop the revolving-door cycle we all see in the court system. I have worked hard to get qualifying individuals into the collaborative courts, appointed psychologists, social workers, obtained diagnoses, and helped clients obtain housing, services, and treatment so they have what they need so that they do not reoffend. In the three years that I exclusively represented children, I was able to disrupt the school-to- prison pipeline by obtaining services for clients that were left behind with missed diagnoses, treatable mental health issues, and intellectual disabilities. Instead of being treated like future criminals, they were given the tools they needed to succeed in the future.
This experience in using a holistic approach during my legal career for deserving cases is unique to my work as a Deputy Public Defender and sets me apart from my opponent. Not only will it translate well for interpreting and understanding the law as a judicial officer, but it has also been completely unrepresented in previous judicial elections and deserves a place on the judicial bench. My experience in seeing what works to address the cause of crime will inevitably serve to inform me once elected, and will benefit everyone in Los Angeles County.
As someone with a family member who has a debilitating mental health disorder, I am also acutely aware of how mental health issues affect families and the individuals suffering from mental illness. In representing clients who suffer from mental illnesses, I have tried to offer them the care, respect, and attention that they deserve. This includes working with victims, witnesses, the greater community, and prosecutors in order to get outcomes that work for everyone.
Our legal system can and should do better for those suffering from mental health related issues. I look forward to incorporating recently passed laws offering alternatives like treatment, rehabilitation, and diversion, to support public safety so that all involved parties can have a more just outcome in cases that qualify, while also serving public safety interests by preventing future crimes through providing the proper resources, as authorized by law.
I intend to bring balance to the bench by offering a deep understanding of the law, contributing to a judiciary that is as diverse and complex as the people it serves, and above all, upholding the Constitution with dignity and respect for everyone in my courtroom.
I obtained my J.D. at the University of California, Davis, King Hall School of Law. While at Davis, I was an extern at Legal Services of Northern California representing indigent clients with matters like unlawful evictions and obtaining benefits. I finished my last year of courses at UCLA, and during that time I interned at the Screen Actor's Guild, then clerked at the District Attorney's office before passing the bar.
My first position was with a small firm that handled union matters, with the bulk of my work focused on matters involving Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies in administrative matters like hearings at the Civil Service Commission, internal affairs investigations, and counsel during homicide investigations.
When I started my career at the Los Angeles Public Defender’s office as a Deputy Public Defender, I was pregnant with my second child. I hit the ground running as a trial attorney handling jury trials, obtaining experience in felonies, misdemeanors, and almost three years in juvenile courts solely representing children. I continue to work in trials, and am also the treasurer of the Public Defender's Association.
Like a lot of people in Los Angeles, I was first involved in the entertainment industry. Law was a second career. While I loved acting and worked regularly, I always had a passion for fighting injustice. Some of my family escaped anti-Semitism during the pogroms. A relative was attacked with an ax and left for dead, and although she survived, she was permanently disfigured. I was surrounded by Holocaust survivors growing up, and was very much aware of what happens when the law is used to promote inequity. This planted a seed for my interest in social justice and fairness.
When I was 19, my big brother, who was a smart, capable, wonderful person (and still is), began to exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia. Watching him go through it in the beginning without having any ability to help was very emotional, and it still is. When he had his first episode, he did end up having contact with law enforcement. Although he was not charged with anything, he was hospitalized. The whole experience was very traumatic for him, as well as for the family who loves him. It made me more aware of the realities people with mental illness face in addition to difficulty obtaining care. Mental illness is very much present in the courts, and it is an issue I think we need to do more to address.
Working regularly as an actor allowed me access to an education which I would not have had otherwise. I embraced the opportunity so I could participate in making sure the law was more fair for everyone regardless of income or ability. With my passion for equity and justice, I chose a career that would allow me to work on behalf of my interests, advocating for the rights of low income people and those with mental illness/disabilities. I am proud of my role in making sure that other people's sons, daughters, parents, siblings, etc., are still afforded their dignity, and that I have preserved their constitutional rights through representing their interests at critical times in their lives.